Under cover of darkness U.S. servicemen hone their skills at home and abroad as they prepare for battle and help train Afghanistan's security forces
In the dark of night Special Ops forces do deadly battle, their faces lit only by the trails from the bullets and mortars they fire.
This stunning set of images shows U.S. Servicemen working and training at home and abroad as they patrol Iraq, help train Afghans, and search enemy compounds.
While the troops are involved mostly in helping Afghans prepare to take over their country's security when the Americans pull out at the end of last year, they still find themselves involved in skirmishes with Taliban attackers.
Light show: Traces from mortars and bullets fired by the 11th Marine Regiment light up the sky like a fireworks display during a training exercise in California
The images show Marines stationed in Helmand province teaching National Security Force recruits how to fire AK47s and search compounds in the dark.
Gun battles and helicopter reconnaissance missions are also pictured as well as training exercises in California and on board ships. The starry background to many of the images adds an eerie atmosphere to the photos, which featured in Foreign Policy magazine.
After the last of the 52,000 troops currently in Afghanistan have been brought home, the U.S. is expected to send in up to 10,000 servicemen to continue training and advising the local security forces.
Spark: Machine gun fire from an AK47 lights the way for a Special Ops Marine training in Helmand
Laser: A beam of light shows the path of rounds of ammunition fired from a M240B machine gun in Helmand province, Afghanistan
Training: The glow of fires lit in a compound provide the only light at Camp Leatherneck
Night watchmen: A Scout Sniper Platoon stand guard as a compound is searched in Afghanistan
Desert post: The silhouette of a military dog and his handler stand out in the glare of headlights as troops are debriefed in Iraq's Basra
Blackout: Members of 82 Airborne gather in Kandahar on a moonless night
Fire: A French soldier ducks and covers his ears as a mortar is launched in a ball of light behind him in Afghanistan
Starry night: A lone armored truck parks on a ridge in Afghanistan, as a long exposure creates a dazzling effect in the sky behind
Fire pit: Marines from the 1st battalion gather by a fire in Helmand, underneath a sky filled with stars
Bright: Neon lights streak across the ground as Bravo Company soldiers prepare to board a Chinook helicopter
Update: Pilot Chris Morisoli is illuminated by his laptop as he enters details in a log book about a Task Force Thunder mission
Eerie: The glow of a car door light stands out in the blackness of an Afghanistan night
Guiding lights: Ground crew signal to MV22 Osprey pilots as they prepare to take off on assault ship USS Kearsarge
Ghostly: A night vision device casts a sinister light over a Marine as he prepares to fire in a training exercise in California
Under cover of darkness: A night vision device picks out the details of a Chinook delivering supplies in Afghanistan
Beyond the front line: Unseen world of Britain's fighting men and women captured in stunning images taken by fellow soldiers
War usually conjures up images of bloodshed, violence and death.
Rarely do we see the softer side of the life on the front line - and these stirring images give a glimpse of soldiers chatting with children, cleaning their weapons and caring for their animals.
The remarkable pictures in the annual Army Photographic Competition show Britain's soldiers at work and play.
'Powder Room' by Cpl Wes Calder RLC, winner in the Professional Portrait section, shows Private Craig Leaman From 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment clear part of a trench system during a dawn attack whilst on Exercise Askari Thunder 6 in Kenya
The Professional Operations winning picture, 'Sunset Soldiers' by Cpl Jamie Peters RLC in the Army Photographic Competition 2013, shows sappers from 21 Engineer Regiment working as the sun sets, to de-construct a Hesco Bastion building in Patrol Base Nahidullah
'Celtic Warrior' by Cpl Jamie Peters RLC captures Private Ross Cunningham from 1SCOTS cleaning his personal weapon at FOB Shawqat after a patrol to an ANA checkpoint
'Hot under the collar' by Cpl Jamie Peters RLC shows a lighter side of army life. This Military Working Dog (MWD) attached to the Welsh Gaurds takes a rest from the heat under an umbrella during an operation in Helmand Province, Afghanistan
They have been taken by amateur and professional soldier cameramen and include images from operations in Afghanistan, ceremonial occasions and sporting events.
Corporal Jamie Peters, RLC, won the top prize for his portfolio of images from six months in Afghanistan, where he was deployed as the photographer for the Army's Combat Camera Team (CCT). It was his job to document the work of British troops and show an otherwise unseen side of Army life and his stunning images show how much has changed and progressed in Afghanistan.
His overall winning image, Celtic Warrior, shows a soldier from the 1st Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland cleaning his personal weapon after an early morning patrol to an Afghan National Army checkpoint.
'Sun Sand and Soldiers' by Cpl Jamie Peters RLC shows sappers from 21 Engineer Regiment working during the midday sun to deconstruct a Hesco Bastion building in Patrol Base Nahidullah
'Flowers for a Friend' by Cpl Jamie Peters RLC. Guardsmen from 1 Welsh Guards chatting to Afghan children during a break in a patrol around their village during an operation to clear insurgent activity and reassure the villagers
'Paddle Power' by Graeme Main, Pro Sports and AT winner. Major Chis Elesmore, Royal Signals practicing at Newgale beach near Brawdy, St Davids Bay, Wales for the the World Surf Kayaking Association Championships held in Queensland, Australia in July 2013
'Beach Gallop' by Sgt Adrian Harlen RLC, runner up in the Pro Portfolio section of the Army Photographic Competition 2013, of members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (HCMR) during a beach exercise as part of their Regimental Training camp, in Norfolk
'Carl' by Sgt Rupert Frere, Runner Up in the Professional Portrait section of the Army Photographic Competition 2013, of Cpl Carl Hines Royal Artillery, as he provides covering fire while members of the BRF cross open ground
Another of his pictures shows Sappers from 21 Engineer Regiment working during the midday sun to de-construct a Hesco Bastion building in Patrol Base Nahidullah.
The base which was home to Burma Company 1 LANCS was completely stripped down and the land handed back to the farmer.
In another picture guardsmen from 1 Welsh Guards are seen chatting to Afghan children during a break in a patrol around their village.
Whilst another image shows a military working dog attached to the Welsh Guards taking a rest from the heat under an umbrella during an operation in Helmand Province.
'Breaking Barriers' by Cpl Jamie Peters RLC, showssoldiers from 1SCOTS bonding with their Afghan colleagues during a checkpoint visit
'Big Air' by SSgt Dan Harmer, Pro Sports and AT runner up captures LCpl Matt Forster, REME (Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers) attached to 7 Regiment RLC (Royal Logistic Corps) getting some air during his timed stage of the course during the Saracen British Downhill Series (BDS) Round 5 at Bringewood
'Smash' by Sgt Jonathan Van Zyl, 1 PWRR based in Paderborn, Runner Up in the Amateur Sports and AT section, captures Pte Woods vs Pte Francis, during an Inter Company Boxing Night, 1st Battalion the Princes of Wales's Royal Regiment
'Snap VCP' by Trooper Chris Wade, winner of the Amateur Operational Image, snapped two soldiers and an interpreter from the Queen's Royal Lancers, QRL questioning an Afghan motorcyclist in Northern Helmand while his young daughter looks on
'Quad Bike' by Captain Dave Scammell from Fareham, winner in the Amateur Portfolio section, photographed Sgt Evans from the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Battery, whose role is to provide the Army's 'eye in the sky' in support of Land Forces on operations, at the UAS Battery and driver training area in Afghanistan
Corporal Peters said: 'Being on the Combat Camera Team I was able to see so much of the work that British troops do in Afghanistan from patrols and operations in Helmand to the Officer Academy in Kabul.
'I think it is a unique job to travel so much around the country and see so much of our soldiers.
'Everywhere we went there was a story to tell, from the experiences of the private soldiers right to the HQ level of planning and executing the missions.'
The runner-up in the portfolio category was London District photographer Sergeant Adrian Harlen, whose images include the funeral guard at Baroness Thatcher's funeral and the first Sikh Guardsman to wear a turban on Royal Guard Duty.
'Goodbye Kiss' by Sgt Adrian Harlen RLC, runner up in the Pro Portfolio section, captured Thomas, a 22-year-old gelding and one of the oldest horses in the Household Cavalry, as he kisses Troop Leader, Captain Charlie Fitzroy, 28, prior to the animals retirement
'Changing of the Queen's Life Guard' by Sgt Adrian Harlen RLC, runner up in the Pro Portfolio section, shows these personnel dressed in the crimson robes as they ride their horses
'Dawn Patrol' by Cpl Mike O'Neill RLC, runner up in the Professional Operations Image section, snapped soldiers of 2 Platoon, Corrunna Company (Coy), 1 LANCS patrolling onto insurgent held ground in the lower Nahr-E-Sahraj district, Afghanistan
'Guards Uniform' by Sgt Adrian Harlen RLC, runner up in the Pro Portfolio section, shows the Major General's Inspection of the Public Duties Incremental Company (PDIC)
Sergeant Harlen, who has worked as a professional Army photographer for eight years, said: 'The opportunities in London are different from the rest of the Army, but the challenge and skills are the same.
'I learnt on operations that you can't photograph a bullet but you can capture the human reactions, to try to tell the whole story in one image.
'In my current job there's just as much pressure to capture that split second moment, whether it's the ceremony of official engagements or capturing the bond between a cavalryman and his horse.'
Other winning photos feature boxing matches, horses being exercised and soldiers on duty.
The pictures are now on display at the National Army Museum in Chelsea.
Broadcaster Dan Snow, who is honorary colonel of the Army's media operations group and opened the display, said: 'These professional and amateur pictures capture elements of Army life that we just don't see otherwise, and it's a reminder that excellence on operations is not only about the frontline, but also about the individual, the bond between soldiers, the training and hard work, and also the lighter side of life.'
'Proud' by Sgt Adrian Harlen RLC, runner up in the Pro Portfolio section, shows Guardsman Jatenderpal Singh Bhullar, 25, from West Bromwich, who has joined F Company Scots Guards, an incremental company of soldiers responsible for delivering ceremonial duties in London. A practising Sikh, he has elected to eschew the traditional bearskin cap worn by the Guards for ceremonial duties, and will instead perform Queen's Guard wearing his Sikh turban
'Steaming' by LCpl Ian Chapman from North Ferriby, East Yorks, runner up in the Amateur Portfolio section. He snapped Pegasus Company candidates on a freezing morning after completion of the Log Race, part of the rigorous training and selection to be eligible to become a Parachute Regiment soldier
'The Water Horse' by Lance Corporal of Horse Dan Short, Household Cavalry, winner in the Amateur Sports and AT section. He photographed a trainee Household Cavalry soldier riding the horse Ink Spot, at Holkom Beach in Norfolk during a break from their ceremonial duties
Corporal Jamie Peters, RLC, won the top prize for his portfolio of images from six months in Afghanistan, where he was deployed as the photographer for the Army's Combat Camera Team
Members of the Third Platoon, Bravo Battery of the Automatic Battalion, 2nd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery Regiment, light up the Zabul province night firing their M777A2 howitzer at suspected enemy movements from Forward Operating Base Pasab, Zharay District, Zabul province, Afghanistan, on July 20, 2011. (U.S. Army/Sgt. Christopher McCann)
An internally displaced Afghan man speaks from a small window at a refugee camp in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 28, 2011.(Reuters/Omar Sobhani) #
A V-22 Osprey carries an external load at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, on July 18, 2011. While attaching the load, the Osprey was hovering less than ten feet above the heads of the LS Marines, who were attaching the load in support of Exercise Mojave Viper as they prepare to deploy to Afghanistan later this year. (USMC/Cpl. Kenneth Jasik) #
An Afghan farmer works in his field in the village of Salam Bazar, on Friday, July 22, 2011 in Helmand province, Afghanistan.(AP Photo/David Goldman) #
Taliban graffiti shows Taliban fighters in a convoy on a wall in the Musa Qala district center, the current Battalion Command Headquarters for the U.S. Marine 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, on Monday, July 25, 2011 in Helmand province, Afghanistan. The district center, once a large opium market under Taliban control also served as sleeping quarters for opium addicts. The graffiti, from that period, depicts Taliban fighters shooting down Russian, American or coalition planes, blowing up their tanks and taking their prisoners. (AP Photo/David Goldman) #
A bomb dropped from a U.S. Air Force F-15 jet explodes during a firefight between Taliban fighters and the Afghan and U.S. soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Charlie company, 2nd battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment at Checkpoint Two Point Five in Kunar province, Afghanistan, on July 14, 2011. (Reuters/Baz Ratner) #
France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (left) and Prime Minister Francois Fillon sit in front seven flag-draped coffins inside the Invalides church during a religious ceremony as France pays tribute to the seven soldiers killed last week in Afghanistan in Paris, on July 19, 2011. (Reuters/Philippe Wojazer) #
U.S. Marines with the 2nd Battalion 12th Marines based in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, pass an old Russian tank -- a remnant from the war between the Soviet Union and Afghan Mujahideen -- as they patrol in northern Kajaki, Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Friday, July 29, 2011. (AP Photo/David Goldman) #
Lance Cpl. Anthony Nolley-Crosson, an intelligence clerk with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, prepares to launch an RQ-11B Raven unmanned aircraft system during UAS flight operations at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii, on July 12, 2011. In a few months, Nolley-Crosson and fellow 3/3 Marines will be using the Raven system in Afghanistan. (USMC/Cpl. Reece E. Lodder) #
U.S. Air Fore Staff Sgt. Stephen Adams observes 36,500 pounds of JP8 fuel fly out the back of a C-17 Globemaster III over Afghanistan, on July 8, 2011. The C-17 dropped more than 121,000 pounds of food and fuel during a 15 hour mission.(USAF/Staff Sgt. David Salanitri) #
Pallets of water and fuel land after an airdrop re-supply mission at Forward Operating Base Ice, Gulistan District, Farah Province, Afghanistan, on July 22, 2011. (ISAF photo/USAF 1st Lt Mark Graff) #
U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Cruz repeats the oath of re-affirmation and re-enlistment during a ceremony conducted by U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commanding general of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A), at Kandahar Airfield in Kandahar, on July 4, 2011.(Reuters/Haraz N. Ghanbari/U.S. Navy) #
Afghan women protest against street harassment in Kabul, on July 14, 2011. In high heels and head scarves, a small band of Afghan women took to the streets of the country's capital Kabul on Thursday to protest harassment by men. The signs read, "Street violence is illegal" (in black), "We will not be silent in the face of street harassment" (in red) and "To disgrace women is to disgrace humanity" (in blue). (Reuters/Mohammad Ismail) #
U.S. Army Spc. Christopher Fox, automatic rifleman, fires a parachute flare from an M203 40mm grenade launcher, at Forward Operating Base Smart, Afghanistan, on July 15, 2011. Fox is a member of Provincial Reconstruction Team Zabul's security force and is deployed from the Massachusetts National Guard. (USAF/Senior Airman Grovert Fuentes-Contreras) #
U.S. Marine Sgt. Jordan Davis, 23, of Martin, Tennessee, with the 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, reads the book "A Feast for Crows" on a Kindle while smoking a cigarette in his bunk at Patrol Base Salam Bazaar, on July 21, 2011 in Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/David Goldman) #
Soharab Ahmed, an Afghan man holds his son Ameer Ahmed as they pose for a picture inside their house in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #
A pair of CH-47 Chinook helicopters touch down on the helicopter landing zone on Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam to pick up soldiers from Laghman Provincial Reconstruction Team for a multiple day mission on July 23, 2011. (USAF/Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane) #
An Afghan National Army soldier fires his weapon during a firefight between Taliban fighters and the Afghan and U.S. soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Charlie company, 2nd battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, at Checkpoint Two Point Five in Kunar province, on July 14, 2011. (Reuters/Baz Ratner) #
U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Scott Messier, who was injured by an IED, lies onboard a Blackhawk Medevac helicopter from Charlie Company 1st battalion 52nd aviation regiment flying over Kandahar province, on July 3, 2011. (Reuters/Baz Ratner) #
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane displays a picture of his family in his helmet while out on a combat patrol in the Alingar District, on July 13, 2011. Sgt. Crane is a combat cameraman attched to Laghman provincial reconstruction team and is tasked with documenting the mission for historical purposes. (USAF/Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane) #
A couple celebrates during a welcome home ceremony for U.S. Army troops returning from Afghanistan, on July 9, 2011 in Fort Carson, Colorado. Some 530 soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team arrived over the weekend, the last major element of the brigade to return from a year of heavy fighting against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province.(John Moore/Getty Images) #
In this July 21, 2011 photo, the hands of a local Afghan woman are seen through the door of her home as she pleads with U.S. Marines with the 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and soldiers of the Afghan National Army, to leave for fear of being shot at by the Taliban, during a mission to look for insurgents in the village of Siraqula in Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/David Goldman) #
An Afghan National Army soldier, right, carries his wounded colleague as U.S soldiers carry another wounded Afghan National Army soldier to a medevac helicopter from the U.S. Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off," Charlie Company 1-52, following a roadside bomb attack on the outskirts of Kandahar, on Friday, July 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) #
The body of Sardar Mohammad, the killer of Ahmad Wali Karzai -- the half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai -- hangs from a building in Kandahar, on July 12, 2011. A group of men in plainclothes hung the corpse against the wall for about 20 minutes before they carried it away. The Kandahar provincial police chief said Ahmad Wali Karzai was shot dead by the long-serving commander of his family's personal protection force. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #
Afghan President HAmid Karzai (center) attends the last memorial service for his brother Ahmad Wali Karzai, in Dand district of Kandahar province, on July 13, 2011. A weeping Afghan President Hamid Karzai led thousands of mourners in burying his brother, who was assassinated by his own head of security in the southern city of Kandahar. Ahmed Wali Karzai was for years dogged by allegations of links to the drugs trade and corruption, but his death is a huge blow for NATO and the government, who made him the key powerbroker in the south and threatens to fuel insecurity. (Mamoon Durrani/AFP/Getty Images) #
A helicopter belonging to the NATO-led forces drops flares during fighting between the Afghan and foreign troops and the Taliban insurgents in Shewa district of Nanagarhar province, on July 17, 2011. At least 10 insurgents were killed when Afghan and foreign troops targeted a group of Taliban who had gathered in a school in Shewa district, district police chief, Abdul Wali said.(Reuters/Parwiz) #
A British Army soldier sits in his armored vehicle before going for a mission from the Patrol Base Jahan Zeb in a desert outside the town of Lashkar Gah, in Helmand province, on July 17, 2011. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
A spotter with the 3rd Battalion 2nd Marines based in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, lies down atop a guard post as an insurgent is identified planting a roadside bomb at Patrol Base Salaam Bazaar in Helmand province, on July 23, 2011.(AP Photo/David Goldman) #
Clasping his prosthetic hand, U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Leroy Arthur Petry listens during a ceremony in which he was presented with the Medal of Honor by U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington July 12, 2011. Petry received the medal for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in Paktya, Afghanistan in May, 2008.(Reuters/Kevin Lamarque) #
Hospital Corpsman Luke Rhoades, 22, of Cold Water, Michigan, with the 2nd Battalion 12th Marines based in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, winds up for a swing at a golf ball on July 28, 2011 at Forward Operating Base Zeebrugge in Kajaki, Helmand province, Afghanistan.(AP Photo/David Goldman) #
Afghan Kuchi, or nomad boys, play as they pose for pictures outside their temporary camp on the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin) #
U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Kyle Delany, 21, of Milford, Michigan, with the 2nd Battalion 12th Marines based in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, hikes up to a mountain top observation point, the Helmand River reservoir in the background, on July 30, 2011 in Kajaki, Helmand province, Afghanistan. (AP Photo/David Goldman) #
Mohammad Sherrif, District Governor for Sangin, salutes the battlefield cross for U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Ralph E. Pate Jr., an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician with 8th Engineer Support Battalion in support of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 8, during a memorial ceremony held at Forward Operating Base Jackson, Sangin, Afghanistan, on July 11, 2011. Pate was killed in action while conducting combat operations in the district on June 26, 2011. (USMC/Cpl. Logan W. Pierce) #
An emblem of Afghan National Police (ANP) can be seen on the door of a vehicle damaged in attack in the town of Lashkar Gah, in Helmand province, on July 12, 2011. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Theresa Dodge (center) receives a flag during the burial of her fiancee, U.S. Marine Cpl. Kyle R. Schneider, at Arlington National Cemetery, on July 19, 2011, in Arlington, Virginia. Cpl. Schneider, 23, who was from Phoenix, New York, was killed in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on June 30. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images) #
Khan Mohammed comforts his son Jaali Mohammed, who lost his leg in a roadside bomb, onboard a medevac helicopter from the US Army's Task Force Lift "Dust Off", Charlie Company 1-52 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on July 25, 2011. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool) #
An Afghan national army soldier fires a rocket propelled grenade during a firefight between Taliban fighters and Afghan and U.S. soldiers from Alpha company, 2nd battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment from Combat Outpost Pirtle King in Kunar province, Afghanistan, on July 18, 2011. (Reuters/Baz Ratner) #
The sun rises over the Arghandab valley's farms and mud houses, on July 24, 2011. (Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images) #
British Army Corporal Simon Ward of 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Staffords) familiarizes himself with a U.S. Marines armored vehicle near the Patrol Base Jahan Zeb, outside the town of Lashkar Gah, on July 15, 2011. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
An Afghan man speeds past Afghan National Army soldiers after clearing a checkpoint near Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, on July 26, 2011. (USMC/Staff Sgt. Jeremy Ross) #
Master Sgt. Todd Eipperle, of Marshalltown, Iowa, salutes the casket at the end of funeral services for Iowa National Guard soldier Sgt. 1st Class Terryl L. Pasker, at the River of Life Ministries, on July 18, 2011, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Guard says Pasker, 39, of Cedar Rapids, was killed during combat operations July 9 in Panjshir Province, Afghanistan. Eipperle, a master sergeant in the Iowa National Guard, was injured in the same attack. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Four MV-22 Ospreys with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 follow a KC-130J with Detachment A, Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352, from Helmand province, Afghanistan, to the USS Iwo Jima in the Arabian Sea, on September 6, 2012.(USMC/Sgt. John Jackson)
A riot policeman keeps watch during a demonstration in Kabul, on September 21, 2012. Hundreds of Afghans protested against a U.S.-made film they say insults the Prophet Mohammad. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani) #
16th BC French unit soldiers unload their vehicles before their return to France as part of French disengagement at Warehouse base in Kabul, on September 23, 2012. France is the fifth largest contributor to NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is due to pull out the vast majority of its 130,000 troops by the end of 2014. (Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images) #
US Army soldiers attached to the 2nd platoon, C-Coy. 1-23 Infantry based at Zangabad forward operating base in Panjwai district deploy an Anti Personnel Obstacle Breaching System (A-POBS), which are charges fired by rocket used to trigger a safe detonation of IEDs. Photo taken during a dawn operation at Naja-bien village, on September 23, 2012. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
Dust kicks off the ground during an operation by US Army soldiers attached to the 2nd platoon, C-Coy. 1-23 Infantry based at Zangabad foward operating base in Panjwai district after an A-POBS detonation on a nearby road during a dawn operation, on September 23, 2012. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan woman carries her child through the Kati Sakhi cemetery in Kabul, on September 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic) #
Afghan policemen investigate at the site of suicide attack in Kabul, on September 8, 2012. A suicide bomber detonated explosives near the heavily barricaded NATO headquarters in the Afghan capital, killing four civilians, NATO and local officials said.(Reuters/Omar Sobhani) #
Pigeons fly above dwellings in the hillside neighborhood of Jamal Mina and the Abdul Rahman Khan mosque in Kabul, on September 27, 2012. It is estimated that about 20 percent of the city's more less than 5 million residents live on houses built on steep hills that surround the city. Running water was recently installed on some homes in this neighborhood but open sewers run down hill.(Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
A soldier from the 1st Platoon, 1-64 Armoured Battalion, US Army, walks through a marijuana field during a security patrol near Morghan-Kecha village in Daman district, Kandahar, on September 6, 2012 near the Kandahar Air Field. The Taliban are involved in a quarter of Afghan security personnel attacks on NATO colleagues, according to a military commander. The surge of assaults, unprecedented in modern warfare, have seen Afghan troops opening fire on their NATO colleagues more than 30 times this year, killing at least 45 foreign troops -- most of them Americans. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
U.S. Marines with the fiscal development team, C-9, Regional Command (Southwest), distribute hero payments, financial compensation given to families of fallen Afghan Local Police killed in the line of duty in Zarghun Kalay, Helmand province, on September 10, 2012. (USMC/Lance Cpl. Robert J. Reeves) #
An Afghan girl from the local Pashtun tribe peers from behind a mud perimeter wall to watch US Army soldiers from the 1st Platoon, Delta Coy, 1-64 ARS army at Nevay-deh village, a short distance from the Lindsey forward operating base on September 13, 2012.(Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
Members of 455th Expeditionary Communications Squadron prepare to connect tower sections as a civilian contractor helicopter lowers sections into place. A specialized team from several Air National Guard Engineering Installation Squadrons deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, combined their efforts to build and set up the 170-foot communications tower, greatly increasing radio communication range. (USAF/1st Lt. Bruce Champion) #
A U.S. Army firing party stands ready during the burial service of U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thalia S. Ramirez at Arlington National Cemetery, on September 26, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia. Ramirez died September 5 in Logar Province, Afghanistan, from injuries suffered when a OH-58D Kiowa helicopter crashed. (Win McNamee/Getty Images) #
During a burial service for U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Thalia S. Ramirez, Brigadier Gen. Charles Flynn (left) presents the American flag that covered her casket to Ramirez's husband, U.S. Army Sgt. Jesse Belbeck at Arlington National Cemetery, on September 26, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia. (Win McNamee/Getty Images) #
Afghan boys play football on a hill in Kabul, on September 11, 2012. (Reuters/Mohammad Ismail) #
Injured Afghan men arrive at a hospital in the back of a truck, along with the dead bodies of other victims, after a suicide attack on a funeral in Durbaba district of Jalalabad, on September 4, 2012. Afghan officials say a suicide bomber killed several civilians and wounded dozens more at a funeral for a village elder in a remote part of eastern Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul) #
A man smokes hashish in a backstreet of a market in Kabul, on September 23, 2012. There is a growing unease for the future of the Afghan economy, mainly supported by foreign aid, after the expected pullout of NATO troops from the country in 2014.(Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
French soldiers secure a perimeter at a forward observing post near the National Police Training Center (NPTC) in Wardak province, on on September 26, 2012. (Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images) #
A U.S. Army soldier from C-Coy. 1st platoon, 1-23 infantry points to a monitor showing video from a remote controlled vehicle displaying an image of a pressure plate type commonly used by Taliban insurgents to trigger IED explosions. Photo taken during a patrol in the village of Gerandai in Panjway district, Kandahar Province, on September 21, 2012.(Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
U.S. Marines with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) relocate six AV-8B Harriers to continue conducting counter-insurgency operations, Camp Bastion, Helmand province, Afghanistan, on September 26, 2012. The six AV-8B Harriers were relocated to Camp Bastion to increase the overall readiness level after the base was attacked on September 14, 2012. (USMC/Sgt. Keonaona C. Paulo) #
Spc. Sarah Sutphin removes her new body armor after training on a firing range on September 18, 2012, in Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Female soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division are field testing the first Army body armor designed to fit women's physiques in preparation for their deployment to Afghanistan this fall. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) #
An Afghan rides a horse at sunset in Kabul, on September 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic) #
Modest buildings crowd the side of a hill overlooking Kabul on September 27, 2012. According to the World Bank more than a third of the population of Afghanistan live below the poverty line, more than half are vulnerable and at serious risk of falling into poverty.(Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
A newborn baby girl, discovered abandoned on the road during an armored patrol of Polish sappers in southern Afghanistan, receives attention in Waghez, Afghanistan, on September 20, 2012. Named "Pola" by the troops, for Poland, the baby girl has been examined by military doctors and was to be handed over to Afghan pediatricians and authorities.(AP Photo/Marcin Gil/Poland's Defense Ministry) #
French soldiers sit in their vehicle as they drive to an operation in Warehouse base in Kabul, on September 24, 2012.(Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan villager holds up a blood-stained hand to US military soldiers from the 3rd platoon, C-company, 1-23 infantry, before they use a ballistics kit to test for explosive residue on his hands. The man was shot because he was suspected of being an insurgent and planting a roadside bomb, in Genrandai village at Panjwai district, Kandahar, on September 24, 2012. The wounded man denied being Taliban, an association with which consequently leads to incarceration for the suspect and his family, saying he had been working at a grapevine when he was shot. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan hound stands on the roof of a house during a patrol by US Army soldiers from Delta Company at Qalacha village in Kandahar, on September 10, 2012. (Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
A bundle of leaflets disperses in the wind after being thrown from an MV-22 Osprey aircraft by a U.S. Army member, above Gereshk, Helmand Province, on September 19, 2012. The leaflets are intended to inform Afghan farmers about Peace and National Unity Week. (USAF/Senior Master Sgt. Dennis Martin) #
Haley Leonard holds on to her father, SFC Kyle Leonard, after he arrived at a homecoming ceremony with his unit, the 713th Engineer Company of the Indiana Army National Guard, at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Gary, Indiana, on September 26, 2012. The 713th Engineers were returning from a deployment in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Six soldiers from the unit were killed during the deployment. (Scott Olson/Getty Images) #
A crowd gathers at an open air market where farmers sell their produce in Herat, on September 25, 2012.(Aref Karimi/AFP/Getty Images) #
A man raises arms, looking at a victim lying on the ground among wreckage, at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, on September 18, 2012. A suicide bomber blew himself up alongside a minivan carrying foreigners on a major highway leading to the international airport in the Afghan capital, police said, killing at least 10 people, including nine foreigners.(Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images) #
An Afghan policeman takes photos as he stands over bodies at the scene of a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, on September 18, 2012. Afghan insurgent group Hezb-e-Islami claimed responsibility on Tuesday for the suicide bomb attack on a minivan carrying foreign workers that killed 12 people saying it was retaliation for a film mocking the Prophet Mohammad. Most of the foreigners killed were reportedly South Africans, employed by an aviation charter company working under contract for USAID.(Reuters/Mohammad Ismail) #
An Afghan boy from the Pashtun tribe watches as a joint patrol between soldiers from the 1st Platoon, 1-64 Armored Battalion of the US Army walks through Morghan-Khecha village in Daman district, Kandahar province, on September 8, 2012.(Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images) #
Afghan villagers raise their weapons as they vow to defend their village against the Taliban in Achen district of Nangarhar province, on September 17, 2012. Taliban fighters are being pushed out of some areas in eastern Afghanistan by local militias defending their villages, according to local leaders. (Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images) #
Afghan workers employed by the municipality of Kabul clean the polluted Kabul river on September 27, 2012. Hundreds of workers earn the equivalent of $100 USD for a month's worth of work cleaning trash that has been dumped on the river by its inhabitants.(Jawad Jalali/AFP/Getty Images) #
A wounded woman rests at a hospital after NATO air strikes in Laghman province, on September 16, 2012. NATO-led air strikes in southern Laghman province on Saturday night killed eight women, according to a local official. (Reuters/Parwiz) #
Afghan policemen take part to an exercise under the supervision of the Eurogendfor in the National Police Training Center (NPTC) in Wardak province, on September 26, 2012. (Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images) #
A blind student weaves a cleaning brush at the Kabul Blind School, on September 2, 2012. The Kabul Blind School was established in 1977 and has more than 187 students. It is the only school for the blind in Afghanistan. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani) #
Coalition Forces attend a memorial service in honor of Lt. Col. Christopher K. Raible at Camp Bastion, Helmand province, on September 19, 2012. Raible, commanding officer of Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211, Marine Aircraft Group 13, 3D Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), was killed in action while repealing an enemy attack on Camp Bastion on September 14, 2012.(USMC/Sgt. Keonaona C. Paulo) #
Ahmad Tazim, who makes a living as a construction worker, stands with his two sons Naim (left), 5, and Karim, 2, in front of his home in the hillside neighborhood of Jamal Mina high above Kabul, on September 27, 2012.(Roberto Schmidt/AFP/Getty Images) #
A view of German outpost Observation Point North in restive Baghlan province in Northern Afghanistan, on August 22, 2012. About 600 German troops are based at OP North. (Reuters/Sabine Siebold) #
Afghan children run to school in a village on the road to Naghlu, Afghanistan, on September 24, 2012.(Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images)